Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Dane Gale has had one goal in life. That was to write and be a successful author. But his only published novel lies languishing on the shelves with little to no takers. When he joins a romance book club, he gets more than he bargained for. His new friends Rose and Sherry and Dale find themselves critiquing the novels they are reading and finding that they believe that they could write one as well. Soon an author is born. “Pamela Clarice,” self-published romance novelist, consisting of the three of them, and quickly they find they have published their first romance to some success. And for each of their novels, Dane chooses a popular model to use for their covers, a man he can’t get out of his mind.
The model Dane is obsessing over is Paul Musegetes. Paul is the world’s most popular romance cover model, but hardly anything is known about him, other than only one photographer is allowed to take his pictures. When Dane, Rose, and Sherry attend the Romance Writers’ Ball on the Summer Solstice, Dane meets Paul and connects for one night of passion that will change his life forever…
After that night with Paul, Dane finds his muse has ignited a storm of inspiration and he starts writing one successful novel after another. And that’s all Dane does….he writes to the exclusion of all else. Paul is a Muse who comes with a curse as well as the writers Midas touch. The writer he anoints on the Summer Solstice has but one year of phenomenal success and then will never be able to write again.
Heartbroken at the price he never knew he would have to pay, Dane vows to track down Paul and break the curse. But how to find a man who doesn’t seem to exist outside of a photograph? All the clues lead to Venice and Paul’s photographer Jackson da Vinci…
What a great concept for a story! The idea that a popular cover model, you know, the ones you see over and over again, is actually a Greek Muse, who with one night of supernatural sex, anoints an author to become the world’s most prolific and successful writer? I love it! And it works beautifully here as a means to explain the writing process and as a raison de etre for Dane , who has to travel not only to Venice but to Greece itself in order to find his answers and a way to break the curse.
Dane Gale is a character that has to grow on a reader. At the beginning, he seems very self-involved and so sure he has written the “great American novel” that no one can appreciate as demonstrated by its poor sales. But it’s what Paul is lacking that is the source of his writing woes and inability to understand love and romance. Vance gives us the key to Dane early on when he introduces the women that will become not only Dane’s writing partners but his friends too. Rose and Sherry open Dane up emotionally as each has a different talent to bring to their novels. What does it say about Dane that his talent is editing,research, formating and such? As the three of them work on stories and ideas, it becomes clear to them all where Dane deficiencies lie. Until he sees a picture of Paul Musegetes when searching for a cover model for their romances. Then Dane becomes able to write not only steamy and believable sex scenes but frame out entire stories around Paul’s pictures.
Brad Vance does a great job here in relating the publishing world as it exists today with all the new avenues and formats of self publishing ebooks. He goes into details about all the various ways in which an author can’t only publish their own stories but track their success and sales as well. This element of the story teeters on almost too much information. It is practically a “how to publish” pamphlet on its own. Interesting but a little overwhelming although I understand why he wanted us to “watch” Dane’s excitement grow as his success climbs exponentially upward.
The women in this story are terrific characters and I wish we had as much of them towards the last section of the story as we did at the beginning. We become invested in these women only to have them disappear halfway through the story. Understandable, necessary, but their absence is definitely felt. Jackson da Vinci is a character to love the more you know about him. He too needs enlightenment and only through his search with Dane does the end result of his own choices become apparent.
One of my most favorite aspects of Apollo’s Curse is the Greek island of Kos and its inhabitants. Such wonders await the readers there, including bits of storytelling and characters worth the price of this novel alone. It’s magical and poignant and I never wanted Dane and Jackson to leave. But of course, that was never possible…. But clearly Brad Vance knows and loves his Greek mythology as well as the islands. Venice too ripples authentically off the pages of the story as the enchanting city it is.
Apollo’s Curse is a book that continued to grow on me even after I had finished. The more its scenes and characters came back to me, the greater my enjoyment in the world and story that Vance created. It’s really a lovely romance as well as a cautionary tale of getting exactly what you asked for. Steamy, hot, sex? Not really, although perhaps you might anticipate that from the cover and the half dressed model. Who is that model? Why the photographer! His name is Francesco Cura. And Vance didn’t find out that he was the photographer until afterwards. Now that’s a great surprise.
At the moment, Vance has said in his interview with me that this is a stand alone novel. I hope not. I want to know what happens to Jackson and Dane next. Also Rose and Sherry who arrive at the end. There is so much more to tell and I would love to see where Vance takes his characters and their Muse next. Consider this story and author highly recommended.
Cover artist and model not credited.
Kindle Edition, 280 pages
Published May 4th 2014 (first published May 1st 2014)